Action from the Exmouth v Torquay United game

In demand striker Corie becomes Johnson's latest signing

Dave Thomas

Torquay United’s new striker Corie Andrews trained with the Gulls for a fortnight to prove his fitness before becoming manager Gary Johnson’s eighth signing of the summer this week.

Ex-Crystal Palace and AFC Wimbledon forward Andrews, 24, in demand after scoring nine goals in 19 starts on loan at Aldershot Town last season, opted to stay with the Gulls with no contract rather than take up offers elsewhere.

Although he didn’t play, Andrews penned what’s believed to be a two-year deal just before United’s 2-0 friendly win at Exmouth Town on Tuesday night, at the same time as 20-year-old defender Ollie Tomlinson also joined United from Plymouth Argyle.

Andrews could be one of Johnson’s ‘marquee’ signings, and he revealed: “Corie came to us with a slight groin strain.

“But he’s been training here for two weeks, because he wanted to prove his fitness, which he’s done.

“That’s why we’ve signed him now, rather than a fortnight ago.”

Even after adding Andrews and promising centre-back Tomlinson, plus Brett McGavin, Dylan Crowe (both Ipswich), Ryan Hanson (Dover), Aaron Jarvis (Scunthorpe), Ross Marshall (Stevenage) and Kieron Evans (Cardiff), Johnson is not finished.

Ex-Cheltenham and Maidenhead goalkeeper Rhys Lovett, who played half of last Friday’s 1-0 win at Buckland Athletic and the whole of the Exmouth game, is lined up to join senior goalie Mark Halstead.

That brings the rebuilt squad up to 18 pros, but Johnson stressed that decisions have yet to be made on at least two more trialists, and he would still have room for a loan signing nearer to the start of the season, at home to Oldham Athletic (Aug 6).

United, whose interest in Poole Town’s Tony Lee seems to have cooled, now have three home friendlies – against Newport County on Saturday (3pm), Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday night and Exeter City on July 23.

“With all due respect to teams who haven’t got so much money to spend, it will be nice to play on a good pitch at Plainmoor,” said Johnson.

Meanwhile, last season’s Player Of The Year Shaun MacDonald has become the last departee to join a new club – he’s signed for League One Cheltenham Town on a one-year deal.

After two lower-key friendlies, United’s new-look squad now has three more demanding warm-up games to nail down places in the side that will meet Oldham Athletic at Plainmoor on the opening day of the National League season (Aug 6).

Speaking after late goals by new signing Brett McGavin and Under-18 forward Brandon Quinn had beaten an Exmouth side led by former Gulls stalwart Kevin Hill 2-0 at Southern Road, manager Johnson relished the visit of League Two Newport County to Plainmoor on Saturday, followed by Plymouth Argyle and Exeter City next week.

“That wasn’t our first team (against Exmouth) – some of them have done well for themselves and some haven’t, so me and Downsey (assistant Aaron Downes) have some decisions to make,” he said.

“Both managers this weekend don’t know their first teams, so we’ve got three great games now for the players to show us that they should be in ours.”